By Michelle Gwynn Jones
Yesterday I went online to Amazon.com and did a search on one of my favorite topics, “books - writing - fiction,” to see what if anything was new and interesting. As usual I put several books in my shopping cart so that later I could review them and decide if I want to make the purchase.
With about fourteen books placed in my cart I settled into the task of further evaluation by clicking on “Look Inside” and reading any and all available reviews. When I came to the third book something about it seemed familiar. I thought to myself, “Have I read this before?” or worse, “Do I already own it?”
I got up from my snuggled-into position on the couch, walked into my home office and looked on the shelves of my bookcase. Sure enough, there it was. So I printed out my shopping list and did a cross check with what I already owned and to my surprise, or dismay, four of the books already adorned my shelf. I decided then that before I did any more shopping I should take a full inventory of what I already own.
Now I have most of the basics by my desk for easy access: the largest dictionary that I can pick up, a thesaurus for when I desperately need another word, a few books on proper grammar and style. Of course, there are the other standards for a fiction writer such as books on developing a scene, the importance of the first five pages, writing effective dialogue and how to prepare a manuscript for submission.
All of those books are normal for a fiction writer, but it is the genre of my writing that makes my top shelf so peculiar. There is a variety of reference books with titles such as: Making Crime Pay; A Complete Guide to Poisons which rates toxicity level from 1 to 5, describes the symptoms of the poison and how to mask it if possible; Guns, Knives and Other Weapons of Death which dedicates a bit too many pages to antique weapons for my stories; Cause of Death : A Writer's Guide to Death, Murder and Forensic Medicine, which is self explanatory.
It made me wonder, if someone came into my office and only looked at my top shelf what would they think? Would they assume I was in law enforcement, or would they fear I was a hired assassin, slowly back out of the room and make a nonchalant exit from my home?
Take a few moments, look over your collection and ask yourself, “What does my bookcase say about me?”